color, surface, light,
popular culture and democratization
franz thalmair

the sum of light
margit zuckriegl

image processes and work opportunities
martin hochleitner


  /image processes and work opportunities

Anton Kehrer’s artistic position is defined by three basic characteristics against a background of his striving towards a reduced pictorial language:

Firstly the artist makes every effort to draw away from typical generic associations. Although it is the photography and the graphic work that have formed the central core of Kehrer’s pictorial work over the past ten years, his prime concern is with the sum of the painting, graphic and photographic opportunities which each of these provide. Kehrer is thus neither painter, graphic artist nor photographer. It is far more a case of his responding to the potential in specific optical qualities, without actually relating to their technical characteristics. His concentration on the image itself is a similar case. Kehrer defines clear and generally framed image fields. By means of cyclical works, serial arrangements and combinations, by the leaning or laying of separate pictures on the wall or the floor Kehrer breaks with any form of proximity, however, and achieves an overall powerful spatial orientation in his projects. The artist’s two exhibitions in the Gallery in the Stifterhaus, Linz (1993) and at the Gallery in the Traklhaus, Salzburg (1997) were thus explicitly conceived as installations.
The image and the technique it makes use of thus possess a functional significance in his work to date. Work on disruptive and transitional phenomena coupled media reflexive approaches with the endeavour to make optimal use of the relevant image resource for the intended artistic manifestation. This manifestation has light as an inalienable prerequisite – as a second basic characteristic of his artistic position. Kehrer photographs the most varied light sources or light forms and reviews the substantial visual contrasts and their respective reductions in form for their aesthetic effectiveness. The focus of his attention is less the difference between brightness and darkness, as the colours that are generated or intensified by artificial light. These have their immediate effect in the separate works.

The exhibition ”FarbLicht” (1) in 1999 picked out as a central theme in an international survey works of art that were defined by the intangible, immaterial form of their chromatic presentation. Beyond the conventional genre definitions of painting, relief and sculpture the exhibition was concerned with concepts that generated colour with the aid of electricity, shaping it artistically and bringing it into form. This exhibition that was presented in Würzburg and Heidenheim in Germany, gave a kind of phenomenology of artificial light, activated by art and updated in contexts that were completely new and unexpected.
It is by no means pure accident that Anton Kehrer has photographed such artistic application measures –as those of James Turell or Angela Bulloch –in recent years, in addition to his own reaction to the artificial light situations of his actual surroundings. There were also direct overlaps with the ”FarbLicht” exhibition by further images on the work of Keith Sonnier and Dan Flavin.

Kehrer reacted to colour as abstract form, free-floating in space. He reflected the immaterial presence of coloured light and made both a constituting component of his artistic work. The immaterial form of the chromatic presentation can again be materialised by means of photography. Thereby he has succeeded in tying even tighter together the relationship between light art and painting that was sketched in the exhibition ”FarbLicht” and annulling the affected differentiation of light emissions (light art) and light reflection (painting) in the medium of photography.

Resulting from this artistic development, that concentrates also in the area of his – continuously pursued – graphite work increasingly on the visualisation of light phenomena, Kehrer has defined a field of discourse for himself through this perception of art as ‘design with light’ and his intensive preoccupation with photography, which since László Moholy-Nagy in the nineteen twenties, has received important impulses above all from American artists such as Robert Irwin, James Turell, Maria Nordmann, Dan Flavin and Keith Sonnier.
The fact that in recent years Anton S. Kehrer has reacted ever more strongly to the work of other artists and integrated their work as an external reference relationship within his own working process, is in the last analysis the third basic characteristic of his position – as the reduced presence of authorship.
Kehrer is thus one of the youngest representatives in contemporary Austrian art of a development that since the late nineteen eighties has as its definition – in the sense of the studies pursued by H. D. Buchloh (2) – the bringing to a head ever and again of the fragmentation in the production process and at the same time intensifying the reflection of the constituting factors of this process. By this means the analysis of the perceptive relationships that link the work of art with the observations of the artist, are embraced in the sketches for and the execution of the photographic and the graphite work.

Martin Hochleitner / director of the "Landesgalerie", OÖ Landesmuseum


1 FarbLicht. Kunst unter Strom – Plugged in Art. Catalogue of the Würzburg City Gallery and the Heidenheim Museum of Art. (Ostfildern-Ruit, 1999).
2 Benjamin H. D. Buchloh: Michael Asher and the Conclusion of Modern Sculpture.
Quoted from: Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (editors.): Theories of Art in the 20th Century. (Ostfildern-Ruit, 1998), S.1096